How Do Hens and Roosters Mate?

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The rooster initiates courtship by offering food to hens and doing a circle dance around them. When a hen responds, the rooster mounts and fertilizes her. Hens and roosters mate during breeding season, which is spring to early summer.

To attract hens initially, the rooster may offer food by calling them and picking up and dropping the food. He then lowers the wing closest to a hen and hops around her. Sometimes if the hen does not respond, the rooster chases her down, grabs her feathers and mounts her by force. Aggressive roosters are usually more fertile. They do not have penises, but rather try to place the sperm on their vent in the hen’s vent.

The sperm of the rooster remains alive within the reproductive system of the hen for seven to 10 days. During this time, when ovulation occurs every 24 to 26 hours, any of the eggs may become fertile. After 10 days, the rooster and hen must mate again to maintain fertility. Usually a hen lays an egg every 25 hours. However, when she has a clutch of about 12 eggs, she stops laying and incubates them. She sits on the nest protecting the eggs, only rising briefly to eat, drink and bathe. She turns the eggs several times a day. At the end of 21 days, the first egg hatches. The rest hatch one day apart to correspond to their having been laid one day after the other.